Causeway welcome center set to open in October

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The new Roy Gillian Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway, currently under construction, is expected to open in October. The new Roy Gillian Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway, currently under construction, is expected to open in October. OCEAN CITY — With wide, wrap-around porches and panoramic views of the Great Egg Harbor Bay, the new Roy Gillian Welcome Center is scheduled to be completed in October.

Located on the south side of the new bridge and causeway, it will be a vital source of information for incoming visitors and serve as the home base of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce.

Like the new bridge and causeway it sits adjacent to, it will do more than service residents and visitors. An integral part of the $500 million causeway replacement project, it was designed by State of New Jersey officials to be a destination unto itself.

The two-story welcome center is not just a building; the plans include areas for fishing, birding, boating and kayaking.

“It’s a great recreational location,” said Michele Gillian, executive director of the chamber. “It will be used for meetings and environmental education classes. It’s really going to be nice.”

Gillian said the first floor will house the information center, similar to the set up at the chamber’s current facility on Ninth Street.

“We’ll have a counter, and information on all of the businesses that belong to the chamber,” Gillian said. “We’ll have information on community organizations like the community center, with the library, historical museum and art, senior and fitness center. We’ll have old pictures of the beach patrol and places around Ocean City.

“It’s really going to be very nice,” she said. “It’s going to have a beautiful view.”

The second floor of the facility will house chamber offices.

“We’re very excited for it to be completed,” Gillian said.

The welcome center replaces a modular building that once stood on the site, which was demolished to make way for the bridge project. Former mayor Roy Gillian, who also served as a president of the chamber, was at a city commissioner when the last causeway welcome center was erected in the 1960s. Gillian advocated for an information center on the causeway to provide information for visitors as they entered the resort.

“At that time, a lot of people were not in favor of it, they did not think that people would stop there, but as it turned out, a lot of people did and it became a very popular spot for information,” Michele Gillian said. “It was staffed by volunteers at that time, and some city employees.”

The building was given a makeover several years ago, but as the construction on the bridge commenced about six years ago, it was demolished.

The new building, she said, will have solar panels and telescopes to view the surrounding wetland area. Because the building sits high above the wetlands, the view will be mostly unobstructed.

“You’ll be able to view Atlantic City, and enjoy a view of the Intracoastal water way,” Gillian said. 

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